Export Control

Tufts University recognizes the importance of complying with all U.S. export control regulations and is committed to full compliance with these regulations.

Export control regulations govern what research instruments, materials (including biologics), software and technology that Tufts, as a U.S. institution, can export (i.e., transfer) out of the country by any means; and what sensitive items and technology Tufts can share with foreign national individuals (visa holders) studying, researching, working in, or visiting our facilities.

These regulations also inform what research and business partners Tufts may engage with, to the extent that Tufts must avoid U.S. government-restricted or prohibited entities (entities of concern from a national security or sanctions perspective).

Tufts research may be subject to export controls oversight when:

  • The items, materials, technology or technical data used in the research are identified on U.S. export control lists.
  • Researchers work with (formally or informally), or provide technical assistance to, foreign nationals from countries currently sanctioned (e.g., for trade, travel, or terrorism) by the U.S.
  • A research agreement (e.g., contract, award, non-disclosure agreement) limits publication of results or participation in the design, conduct, or reporting of the research based on citizenship.

Some exports require express written permission from the United States government, known as an export license. Penalties associated with non-compliance with export controls can be severe, and may result in fines, jail time, loss of export privileges, loss of research contracts, and reputational damage to specific researchers and to Tufts.

For questions about any of these issues, contact Tufts’ Research Compliance Manager, Jon Chau, Jonathan.chau@tufts.edu.  The Research Security and Export Control Program supports Tufts researchers and research administrators and answers questions about and actions required for compliance with export control regulations.

Services provided include:

  • Evaluating research activities (e.g., sponsored projects, technology transfers, international travel) for export controls conditions;
  • Assisting with the development of a Technology Control Plan (TCP) if export controls apply to a research activity or project;
  • Obtaining appropriate federal licenses and other approvals for an activity if it is export-controlled; and,
  • Advising on, and monitoring the completion of, required export controls training.

Tufts adheres to all export controls regulations, including:

These regulations determine how technology, technical data, technical assistance, and items or materials (from software to satellites and more) are physically or electronically exported, shipped, transmitted, transferred, or shared by the U.S. to or with foreign countries, persons, or entities.

There are several exclusions, and two that are particularly relevant to academic research: the fundamental research exclusion and the public domain exclusion.

Fundamental Research Exclusion

Information from “fundamental research” is excluded from export control laws. It is the University’s policy, whenever possible, to conduct its research activities under the Fundamental Research Exclusion. Although the definitions of “fundamental research” vary slightly between the ITAR (22 CFR § 120.11(a)(8)​) and the EAR (15 CFR § 734.8​), both are based upon the Reagan Administration’s National Security Directive 189​, which defines fundamental research as:

“Basic or applied research in science and engineering at an accredited institution of higher learning, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.”

The Fundamental Research Exclusion is NOT available when:

  • Publication restrictions are accepted from the sponsor (beyond a brief review for proprietary information)
  • Access or participation restrictions are accepted from the sponsor

Even if the basic project is determined to be fundamental research, the following aspects are still subject to export controls:

  • Work done outside the U.S.
  • Shipping of tangible items
  • Encryption software/source code
  • Export controlled proprietary information
  • Development or “Use” of equipment (operation, installation, maintenance, repair, overhaul AND refurbishing)
  • Foreign National access to technologies, equipment, or technical data controlled under the ITAR

Though broadly defined, faculty​ and investigators should be mindful that the FRE does not apply to all University activities. Many clinical activities (such as patient care), for example, would not qualify as “research” in “science” or “engineering” and would therefore be ineligible for the FRE.

University research will not qualify as fundamental research if the university or researcher accepts any restrictions on the publication of the information resulting from the research, other than limited prepublication reviews by research sponsors to prevent inadvertent divulging of proprietary information provided to the researcher by sponsor or to ensure that publication will not compromise patent rights of the sponsor.

Public Domain Exclusion

Both the ITAR and the EAR exclude from their export licensing requirements any information that is already in the public domain. (22 CFR §120.11 (a)​ (ITAR)); (15 CFR §734.9​ (EAR)​)

Information may be considered “published” and hence in the “public domain” when it is generally accessible to the interested public through:

  • Libraries (public or university)
  • Periodicals, books, print, or other media
  • Patents and patent applications
  • Conferences, meetings, seminars, trade shows, or exhibits open to the public or technically qualified public.
  • Websites accessible to the public

A shipment of any tangible item being sent outside the U.S. is considered an export and requires a compliance review to ensure it complies with applicable U.S. controls. Additionally, the shipment or transport of materials like laptops, GPS units, scientific instruments, or prototypes outside of the U.S. for the purposed of research, conference demonstrations, or peer collaboration is considered an export also require a review and export license determination.

Shipments controlled under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) or the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) must be handled in strict compliance with the export regulations. Failure to obtain appropriate export licenses or other government approval, failure to file correct export documentation or shipping documents can result in severe fines and other penalties.

Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) identifying foreign organization or foreign national recipients must undergo compliance review by the Tufts Research Security and Export Control Program following submission to the OVPR Tech Transfer and Industry Collaboration Office.

International shipments require complex processing and should not be attempted by individuals. Contact the Tufts Research Security and Export Control Program prior to engaging in any type of international shipping of items, software, technology, or technical data related to Tufts activities to any location outside the U.S.

The Tufts Research Security and Export Control Program is available to help Tufts researchers navigate the international shipping and procurement process, contact exportcontrol@tufts.edu.

Shipping Biological Materials

For researchers working with biological items, there are a number of items that will require export licenses prior to being shipped outside the U.S. These include attenuated forms of bacteria, toxins, virus, and fungi or animals or material containing those items that are on the Export-Restricted Biologicals and Select Agents list.

There are many items that are not select agents but do require export licenses as it falls under the controlled category for genetic elements and/or genetically modified organisms. Contact the Research Security and Export Control Program if you plan to ship any items on this list so we can file the required export licenses. Please note that this may take 6 weeks or longer to obtain.